Source: Milling industry struggles to settle $87m maize, wheat bill | The Herald June 8, 2017
The milling industry is battling to settle an outstanding $87 million bill on wheat and maize imported since August 2016, a situation that the sector says is bringing ‘serious operational risk’.“A quick computation of our aggregate private sector imports of maize and wheat since dollarisation in 2009 indicates that the country imported more than 3,5 million tons of maize and 1,8 million tons of wheat. This amounts to more than $2 billion, and the current strain on Nostro currency has been long coming,” Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Tafadzwa Musarara told the Command Agriculture All Stakeholders Conference yesterday.
“With this background, I will not labour to mention the vast business opportunities lost in the provisions of seeds, fertilizer, labour, mechanisation by local companies had we grown this grain,” he said.
The grain milling sector has seen the command agriculture programme as being noble in that it is an import substitution mechanism with potential to solve the Nostro challenges.
As such, GMAZ is rallying behind the command agriculture programme and “everything it stands to represent”.
“The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe is currently executing its pledge of $8 million funding the rehabilitation and repair work of silos (at the Grain Marketing Board).
“We will shortly be providing the 20 percent upfront payment for 800 000 tonnes of maize that we have procured from Command Agriculture so that farmers are paid on time,” said Mr Musarara.
Command agriculture is a programme implemented under the guidance of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition chaired by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and run from the Office of the President and Cabinet.
The programme is voluntary and national in outlook, involving both the private and the public sector in its funding and implementation. It includes both crops and livestock.
“I wish to emphasize that the milling industry was never commandeered to buy maize. To us the term “Command” is a harmless term and the programme does not drive us against our intended business trajectory and strategic intent.”
Furthermore, the millers have committed to off take 300 000 tonnes of wheat that will be grown under the command agriculture 2017 wheat farming programme.